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And Fairies Sing

(ONE FAMILY'S EXPERIENCE WITH CHILD-LED LITERARY LEARNING) 

AND FAIRIES SING ~

(ONE FAMILY'S EXPERIENCE WITH CHILD-LED LITERARY LEARNING) 

by Denise Laubacher, 2003 SPRING MAGIC

The World is very old;

But year by year

It groweth new again

When buds appear.

The World is very old,

And sometimes sad;

But when the daisies come

The World is glad.

The World is very old;

But every Spring

It groweth young again,

And fairies sing.

(from "Flower Fairies of the Spring", by Cicely Mary Barker, c.1923, republished, 1990, Federick Warne)

After experiencing a rather long and ill winter in our family, Spring is more than a welcome guest coming back to visit ! It is the promise of warmer and healing days ahead. The smell of new sweet earth, the sound of birds busily preparing for their broods, and delight in spying the first of the spring flowers emerging.

Three years ago, I remember watching my then 6 year old daughter sit in the back yard next to our young maple tree early one spring. The trees leaves were just beginning to unfold. My daughter was reading Cicley Mary Barker's "Flower Fairies of Spring", to this tree. She was very intent and very serious. And of course, the tree was her captive audience ! She also had her sketch journal with her and drew the tree into it. Nearly every day, from the time spring had begun, she sat and read Barker's work to what was apparently, her favorite tree. I would have loved to really gotten into her mind with this one, but somehow, I felt it would ruin the whole atmosphere of this seemingly spontaneous occurence. All I can think, is that this was the youngest tree in our yard and she took to it in a special youthful way.

When it came time for planting, my daughter had her flower garden area all plotted out. Her Flower Fairy books seemed a very natural companion in this event. She referred to the different seed packets with fondness and in reference to each fairy that particular flower was representative of. It was so dear ! And so this garden flourished, unbelieveably so, that we dubbed my daughter with having a blessed green thumb, and maybe some invisible fairies to help her !

My daughter's fondness of Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies, continued and she soon had collected all the little flower fairy books, and some other books of interest regarding the flower fairies. A favorite was published by Warne using the work of Barker, titled: "The Meaning of the Flowers: folklore, fairylore, superstitions & remedies." It includes Barker's beautiful artwork and a description of flowers, such as: "Cherry Tree, Deception, Good Education:

The wild Cherry tree is the symbol for deception because although it blooms as beautifully as the cultivated Cherry tree its fruits are inferior. The cultivated Cherry tree is the emblem of good education because careful pruning produces a better fruit when the blossom is over.

Poison protection: Carry a sprig of Cherry tree in your pocket and poison ivy will be unable to harm you." (Thus, the superstition)

My daugher's collection of Barker's flower fairy items grew; ornaments, cross-stitch, a wall calendar displaying the beautiful artwork on it, and garden statues of the "Columbine", and "Winter Aconite" fairies. She memorized flower fairy poems and recited them often; at our home school showcase program, she recited her poems for everyone. She sketched and water colored the fairies into her natural journal. She began to give Barker's flower fairy books away as gifts for her friends on the occasions of their birthdays, matching the season of their birth with the season of the book.

Then came a fairy opportunity so grand and unique. Mother and daughter were able to attend a Fairy House day at a local rural farm store, hosted by the owners. It was a lovely little hole in the wall store, off the back end of a barn, called The Purple Cow. The store always provided seasonal foods from the farm, and hosted a nice display of Barker's books and ornaments among other specialties.

On the evening we attended, a special display was made that included even more of Barker's works, lovely natural decorations, wreaths, hanging vines, flowers, and the most interesting fairy food ! All the foods were "tiny". There were bacon and eggs, made from stick pretzels and held together with blob of delicious white chocolate, and a dab of yellow frosting in the middle for the yolk. The hamburger snacks were vanilla wafers, with fudge frosting (the burger), and red and yellow dabs of frosting for catsup and mustard. There was a cereal mix of toasted oats, fruit loops, and chocolate chips, (Fairy mix) along with orange punch and apple cider.

The highlight of the evening was making the individual fairy houses. This was done by using lots of craft sticks, a house form of poster board, and hot gluing it all together. The girls then used whatever colors of paint they wished, and embellished their houses with glitters, gems, miniature shells and other small ornaments and natural items, all provided by the hosts. The houses included a door for entrance of the potential fairy dweller.

Next, a fairy story teller weaved a tale of mystery and nature. She explained how the special house would attract a special fairy. But fairies were fleeting and easily scurried off if they heard anything approaching. So not to be surprised if they never spied their special fairy, but be assured she or he were resting comfortably in the house they provided for them in the windowsill ! And so.....spring magic.

I have found my daughter, since that captivating fairy day, exploring natural areas, and building from nature, small, discreet fairy dwellings, at the bottom of trees, under shrubs and bushes, in special hidden places. When we are out on nature walks in any of the various areas we tend to return to, I find her looking for her last fairy house built into nature, rediscovering it and perhaps giving it some reinforcements before we move on. And as I was inquiring some information from her for this article, her last comment to me was: " Mom, could I have a fairy party here at home with my friends? Wouldn't it be nice?" I think it would, and I'm sure we'd have to find out what kind of teas fairies are most interested in, because I know mothers would be interested in the same kind if they need to be present for fairy festivities.

THE SONG OF THE ZINNIA FAIRY

Z for Zinnias, pink or red;

See them in the flower-bed,

Copper, orange, all aglow,

Making such a stately show.

I, their fairy, say Good-bye,

For the last of all am I.

Now the Alphabet is said

All the way from A to Z.

(from "A Flower Fairy Alphabet", by Cicley Mary Barker, c.1934, published by Federick Warne)

Resources:

Amazon on line has a wonderful collection of Cicley Mary Barker's published works. www.amazon.com

Hearthsong Catalog has often carried original Flower Fairy items. www.hearthsong.com

Garden Supply Inc., has carried Barker's design of garden statues, and seasonal ornaments. www.gardensupply.com

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